The emotion of carrying the Sovereign Mother on the shoulder reported by two generations

«Taking the Sovereign Mother's litter involves a lot of feeling», assumes Horácio Ferreira, who carried the Sovereign Mother on his shoulder between 1976 and 2016

Tiago and Horacio Ferreira. Photo: Mariana Carriço | Sul Informação

Horácio Ferreira was 19 years old when he took the Nossa Senhora da Piedade litter for the first time. In 1976, he did not expect to carry the Sovereign Mother until 2016, but the truth is that he felt that this was still his mission and that he was still able to fulfill it.

It has been 40 years about which he now speaks with great pride and emotion – mainly because he is part of the family that has been carrying the litter for years, this being the sixth generation.

“This beginning was made by a cousin of mine who was a corporal. I think our family has the most years in a hereditary sequence to take the litter, but this was never a matter of obligation. It can be passed from parents to children, or not, but it is beautiful that it passes from parents to children, because taking the Sovereign Mother's litter involves a lot of feeling and, if this feeling is not put as the first base of the second part of taking the andor, it doesn't work", began by telling Horácio Ferreira to Sul Informação, during a conversation three days before the big party, which took place on Sunday, 1 May.

“The first part is our availability of love to the Sovereign Mother. I believe that no man will take the Sovereign Mother's litter if he does not have a mother's love», she continues.

As a native of Loulé, Horácio Ferreira has always lived this party and, at the age of 10, he was already accompanying the men on the litter. At that time, he wanted one day to occupy that place and also to be able to carry the feeling and emotion of a people and a party that brings so many «adoptive children to Loulé».

«I have always taken Nossa Senhora da Piedade out of affection and love for the Sovereign Mother and that, for me, has always been a settled and honorable point. I am at the service of the Sovereign Mother and, when I go up, I carry the Mother on my back».

Being a man of the litter is a hard task, carrying the litter is not for everyone, but Horácio believes that, in the most difficult moments, it is the Sovereign Mother who gives them the strength to continue, climb the slope and reach the Sanctuary.

“I have no doubt that there is superior help. All men who take the Sovereign Mother's litter have their religious part. And, from a certain point of the ascent, I say it, there is no force, except that of the Sovereign Mother, who says: I will get there and you will all get there», he emphasizes.

This is not, however, an idea shared only by Horacio. Tiago Ferreira, also a man of the litter, couldn't agree more with his father.

“I certainly believe that there is a superior force, more than the force of the people. But I am sure that it is faith that makes us move». For Tiago, who has accompanied his father during the Sovereign Mother's parties since he was 7 years old, picking up the litter was always a wish, which only came true at the age of 19.

«My father also took the litter since he was 19 years old and I always accompanied him. When it was my turn, I was the same age as him. I am now twenty years old as Homem do Andor, which, in fact, are eighteen transporting the Sovereign Mother because there were only eighteen parties», Tiago told Sul Informação.


Tiago and Horácio Ferreira getting ready to load the litter – Photo: Mariana Carriço | Sul Informação


At the time of the interview, two days before the Festa Grande, the nerves, emotion and pride of, once again, preparing for the journey that takes thousands of people to Loulé could already be noticed.

“The party has more to say. There is the procession through the city streets, then there is the ascent – ​​and it is in this ascent that we should have some respect, but I am not afraid, because I usually say that whoever is with the Sovereign Mother is not afraid. It is a respect for the mission we are carrying out», reveals Tiago.

This is also an idea that Horácio Ferreira, now responsible for carrying the torch, passes on to the men before his last departure from Largo de São Francisco, from where the litter leaves at around 18:00 pm, towards the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Piedade, at the top of the hill, which you will reach about an hour later.

«Now I push for others who take the Mother above them, always believing that the Mother is in my life. Nossa Senhora da Piedade works a miracle with me every day: in my work, in my social and family life, every day I talk to the Sovereign Mother and she is in my life», says Horácio, with emotion in voice.


The men of the litter – Photo: Mariana Carriço | Sul Informação


The journey from Largo de São Francisco to the Sanctuary, which takes place two weeks after Easter, is long and hard, but the men of the andor always count on the support of the people who help them in this task of carrying the patron saint of Loulé, shouting "Long live!" of incitement.

«The start of the Largo de São Francisco Church is something that cannot be explained. When men go out, they know it's a difficult mission, but they are men who surpass themselves. What I usually say to the men on the litter before leaving is: “eight men, eight brothers, are left to yourselves, from here on no one else will touch the litter and don’t have the slightest doubt that the Sovereign Mother will help you” », says Horácio, who stresses that having the people by the side of the litter always gives «a lot of strength».


Photo: Mariana Carriço | Sul Informação


Today, at the age of 65, and after two years of interregnum ("When the man in the litter doesn't go out with Our Lady on the street, he doesn't enjoy it") due to the pandemic, Horácio felt the return of the party with the same emotion, but, days before, he confessed to us that it could not have been carried out on a more remarkable day.

«This time, the festivities bring families together on a day [May 1] which also marks Saint Joseph the Worker's Day and Mother's Day».

Since 2016, and despite no longer carrying the litter on his shoulder, Horácio has always accompanied men, walking alongside them.

“Every year I say it's the last one, but when the date of the party approaches, I think I change. The pain I have in my back goes away, the pain I have in my feet goes away, my age goes away. I think it's all over and I'm rejuvenated”.

Having followed so many phases of the party, Horácio confesses that he is afraid that the mystique will be lost, but it reassures him to know that his blood “continues to flow under the litter”.

«It is important for me to see that Tiago has the same feelings as me. All this education was given to him, he has it with him. I have a son who started at my side and that's why he has all the values ​​with him».


Tiago and Horácio Ferreira already at the sanctuary – Photo: Mariana Carriço | Sul Informação


Ao Sul Informação, Horacio explains that, to be a man of the andor, it is necessary to want a lot. «Whoever wants to be a man of the litter, walks around the Mother. What I have to do is fight to be the choice of the men of the andor. The fact of walking in a circle shows a humility in wanting and this is important for the men of the andor, who then make their choice».

Then it's up to each one to know when to stop. “I could have taken more years. But I thought that would be the goal, and from there, I withdrew. No one tells a man that he can no longer carry the litter. Each one will have to take responsibility for giving the place to another. You also need to know how to say not and the man on the litter must have that humility», he says.

For Tiago Ferreira, who has been carrying the Sovereign Mother for twenty years, it seems difficult to carry out this mission for as long as his father.

“I don't say it's impossible, because I don't know what to expect, but 40 years is a lifetime. I haven't even gotten there yet and it's tough. I believe that, psychologically, my father is still prepared to take the litter, but physically, we also have to respect our bodies and be honest with other men”.

Asked about the necessary preparation, Tiago confesses that they go for walks before the big day, so that they can be physically prepared, but that's all.

According to Horacio, «there has to be a physical condition adapted to the effort. In the past, it was easier because the men who carried the litter were men who worked in agriculture, construction, and the railways. There was a direct relationship with the work that would, perhaps, be more difficult for an office worker”.

«One of the things my grandfather taught me was to always lift the pitchfork at Vivas of the Sovereign Mother and the men of the litter, but never raise our eyes very much, because, with the strength of fatigue, we could gain a certain fear. That's why, when they leave Largo de São Francisco, I always say: “never fear, always respect”».

And it was with this respect that, last Sunday, May 1st, these eight men walked the steep path again, returning the Sovereign Mother to her home. During the journey, and upon arrival, thousands of people of all ages accompanied them, feeling the same emotion with them.


Photos: Mariana Carriço | Sul Informação